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Still Waters

The best board games of the ancient world

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Still Waters

Long before Settlers of Catan, Scrabble and Risk won legions of fans, actual Roman legions passed the time by playing Ludus Latrunculorum, a strategic showdown whose Latin name translates loosely to “Game of Mercenaries.” In northwest Europe, meanwhile, the Viking game Hnefatafl popped up in such far-flung locales as Scotland, Norway and Iceland.

Farther south, the ancient Egyptian games of Senet and Mehen dominated. To the east in India, Chaturanga emerged as a precursor to modern chess. And 5,000 years ago, in what is now southeast Turkey, a group of Bronze Age humans created an elaborate set of sculpted stones hailed as the world’s oldest gaming pieces upon their discovery in 2013.

From Go to backgammon, Nine Men’s Morris and mancala, these were the cutthroat, quirky and surprisingly spiritual board games of the ancient world.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/best-board-games-ancient-world-180974094/

*long read*

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Taun

It kind of makes me wonder if Prehistoric people played games similar to these... Perhaps Stonehenge wasn't a ritual site at all , but a giant "Duck Duck Goose" or "Musical Chairs" play area... (I wouldn't bet money on that idea, but it is fun to think about)...

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Essan
4 minutes ago, Taun said:

It kind of makes me wonder if Prehistoric people played games similar to these... Perhaps Stonehenge wasn't a ritual site at all , but a giant "Duck Duck Goose" or "Musical Chairs" play area... (I wouldn't bet money on that idea, but it is fun to think about)...

I wouldn't bet money on that not being the real purpose behind stone circles .....

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quiXilver

I love boardgames.

I have three modern recreations of several ancient games.

Hnefetafl - Ancient Norway's version of chess.  Though the board and pieces could be reconfigured for many games, not just one most popularly known today.

UR.  Ancient version of Parcheesi, movign pieces out of start around the course and into Home... but again, probably came with many variations given the type of specific tiles present on the board and the two sided nature of the pieces.  I love the tetrahedral dice used in this game.

Wei Qi, or Go  Yin/Yang Chess.  This elegant game is simple to grasp the rules of, and darn near impossible to master all the subtleties of (for me at least), holds the distinction of being the longest continuously played game from its inception through modern times.  Originated in China but gained popularity as Go in America with soldiers bringing it to home after their occupation of Japan post ww2.

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Kittens Are Jerks

Some of those game boards are really quite stunning. 

I had no idea backgammon (my favourite board game) was as ancient as it is.

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Eldorado
Still Waters

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